Friday, May 27, 2011

The Craddock candidacy post-mortem

It was a matter of time before CM Michael Craddock was going to bow out of the race for Mayor. His campaign really was like running a pump car up against a locomotive. And Craddock simply did not have any progressive chops to pull votes away from Karl Dean. He simply waged one too many culture wars over the years. I like the guy personally, but if he didn't lose my vote several years ago over the Kay Brooks/School Board fiasco or over English Only or on his latest vote against non-discrimination, there are any number of other votes documented on this blog that would have given me pause before pulling the Craddock lever.

Even the council member's attempt to play the populism card was not enough. I needed a nobler brand of populism.

But Richard Lawson has the best analysis on why Craddock never stood a chance:

Craddock was in a hole from the start. A knock on him among observers is that he never was for anything, most always against something. To run for mayor, you have to be for something, as observers point out. Craddock had been crafting his message and working toward a steady position for something. And, of course, Craddock isn’t noted for having a tremendous amount of political charisma, nowhere near enough to overtake Dean. Then there’s the money. And, well, that’s a mighty big factor and has been for a long time no matter the election. Craddock simply couldn’t scrape together the nickels to compete with what’s turned out of be a strong fundraising machine for Dean.

It didn’t help that the mainstream media anointed Dean to a second term long ago. In a race of this nature, however, money flocks to the perceived winner, which in this case is the incumbent. Dean has filled his coffers well even though the campaign fundraising environment apparently has become tough for even incumbents. [emphasis mine]

Craddock was plagued both by lacking a bridge to progressives disaffected with the Dean autocracy and by not having the resources in any form to give him a realistic shot.

By the same token his conservative record wouldn't necessarily prompt me to cast another vote for Karl Dean this time around, whose stance on non-discrimination was arrived at not because of his profound character superiority over Craddock, but because of a random meeting with with a wealthy businessman in an airport. Not exactly a profile in courage. More like a gentler form of bigotry akin to benign neglect. There were plenty of reasons not to vote for Michael Craddock without exaggerating Karl Dean as the more valorous of the two on non-discrimination.

An ardent Dean loyalist, who earlier argued that it is good for Dean's council critics to have opposition in their races for re-election, blogs:

the Dean campaign might be able to focus more on helping to re-elect and elect some friends and allies on the council

Because we saw how well that worked out for Jeff Yarbro and Sam Coleman (the latter a gentler form of Jim Gotto) in the last election.

Karl Dean's election influence is mixed at this point. Give him and his money credit entirely for the win against Bob Clement for Mayor. Despite media spin there is no clear evidence that his opposition to English Only influenced the impressive and organized vote to defeat a couple of years ago, but give it to him for the sake of argument. His planned war of attrition against the Fairgrounds and vision for redevelopment did nothing to dissuade a large number of registered Davidson County voters to put the matter on the ballot, exactly where the Mayor's Office did not want it to be.

Dean was always going to win this year's election due not to his person but to his money. More exactly, it was due to the donations belonging to corporations and wealthy individuals, who are the ones who will determine the direction of Dean's second term (just like they did the first term). For all the charges of "bigotry" flying at the other side, money and not morality was going to be the determiner of the mayoral election.

So to spin Karl Dean as some kind of charismatic, or even effective, election-year kingmaker with a proven track record is only so much propaganda being slathered on the urban myth of the Dean Machine. Don't get me wrong. He's going to do what he can help the people who can keep his status quo going, and there are a host of council candidates who seem willing to roll over and spoon with his administration in clinging indigence (a subject for another post).

But we've already seen that plot played out in Metro government between the non-inspirational popularity contests that elections are. Having bought your way to a leadership post does not make one an authentic leader who motivates voters to the polls. And just how low might August's turn out actually be if the Fairgrounds referendum were not on the ballot?


  1. "it is good for Dean's council critics to have opposition in their races for re-election"

    Just curious which comment you are referring to? If by "Dean's council critics" you mean folks like Duane Dominy and Karen Bennett, you betcha.

  2. Lawson is right on.

    I would add that there are many in Nashville who (privately) criticize Dean, yet they look over their shoulder before doing so.

    These folks don't so much fear criticizing Dean, as they fear "coming out" with criticism in front of their "friends and neighbors."

    Nashville has long-suffered from this malaise.

    It would do our city good if people would begin to speak their minds and let their true thoughts and feelings be heard.

    A big part of Dean's problem is the arrogance that comes from his believing he is sitting in the catbird seat.

    He may well be sitting there, but that's because few people in Nashville are willing to go out into the yard and shoo him away.

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